Like the feel and capacity of the Sig Sauer but can’t get used to that single / double action? Check out the single action only P226 Elite in 9mm…
Yeah, I know, .22LR ammo is impossible to find. But the situation is getting better, and this fun new pistol comes with a starting supply of ammunition – 222 rounds of Winchester to be exact. Yep, it’s your birthday!
If you keep up with the .22LR pistol market, you know that Smith & Wesson announced the original M&P22 .22LR pistol way back in 2011. Technically, the original model was an adopted child through partnership with Walther. The pistol was made by Walther, imported and marketed under a partnership arrangement between Smith & Wesson and Walther.
Since then, the companies have moved into more independent ventures, amicably I might add, and now Smith & Wesson has produced a natural born child – the M&P22 Compact. Unlike its predecessor, the new M&P22 Compact model is entirely American made by Smith & Wesson. And it’s not just a scaled down version of the original. The new compact model has been largely redesigned – a quick look at the inside will show you new internals including trigger transfer bar, extractor, ejector, firing pin and feed ramp. Speaking of feed ramps, one of the design goals of the new pistol was reliability with a broad range of ammunition. More on that later.
Like most .22LR pistols, this one is a blowback design with a fixed barrel. It’s a single-action, hammer operated firing mechanism with solid safety levers on both sides of the frame. As a side note, the safety levers are now metal with a plastic over mold and noticeably more solid than those on the original M&P22.
Here are the basic specs:
|Overall Length:||6.7 inches|
|Barrel Length:||3.6 inches|
|Barrel Rifling||1:15, 6 Groove, Right Hand|
|Overall Height (including sights):||5.0 inches|
|Overall Width (with controls):||1.5 inches|
|Total Empty Weight:||17.0 oz.|
The pistol has a threaded barrel, but you won’t notice that at casual glance as the threaded portion and thread protector cap are internal to the slide. This means that you will need an adapter to extend 1/2×28 threads past the muzzle so you can attach a silencer. If you have an original model M&P22 be aware that the barrel threading is now larger, so you’ll need a new adapter.
In addition to ambidextrous safety levers, the M&P22 Compact has a magazine release button that can easily be moved to the opposite side, so the pistol is friendly to righties and lefties.
Sights are standard dovetailed post and notch with three bright white dots. The rear sight has also been redesigned to be more easily adjustable so point of impact can be tuned to your specific choice of ammo.
Other features include a front rail for lights and lasers (don’t laugh, this makes an excellent rodent gun, trust me, I know!), two (10) round magazines and a loaded chamber indicator hole in the top of the slide.
The trigger is more of a service gun style as compared to a target pistol, and I think that’s part of the goal of the Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. Comparable in size to a shield, it makes a low(er) cost option for training. The trigger has about ⅓ of an inch of take up, followed by a break at just under six pounds of pressure.
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There’s no doubt about the Sig P226’s status as a reliable and quality handgun. After all, hard-core gun users like Navy Seals and Texas Rangers use the P226, or in the military’s case, the MK25. Like most of the other Sig Sauer “P” models, the standard P226 is a hammer-fired, double / single action design. The first shot requires a 10-pound trigger pull to cock the hammer and break the shot. Subsequent shots only require about 4 ½ pounds of trigger pressure as the hammer is cocked from the semi-automatic action. Also, “standard” P226’s are available in multiple calibers: 9mm, .40 S&W and .357 Sig.
Here’s what’s different about the Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO. As you might surmise from the name, it’s a single action only design. It’s kind of like the love child of the 1911 and a Sig P226 Enhanced Elite model. If you’re not familiar with the Sig E2 (Enhanced Elite) concept, it’s an improved grip design that reduced reach to the trigger while offering a full, and very rounded, grip profile. Also, the SAO model is only available in 9mm at this time.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO comes with two 15-round magazines. It’s packed in a foam-lined hard plastic case that has two holes for padlocks if you want to lock it up for travel. Sig also includes a cable gun lock so you can store your pistol safely when not in use.
The P226 is a full-size gun. It’s 8.2 inches long and 5.5 inches high. At its widest point, width measures 1.6 inches. The barrel itself is 4.4 inches. Overall weight with an empty magazine in place is 34.4 ounces.
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Love it or hate it, the 1911 pistol is kind of a big deal, even if just for its longevity. Just past the turn of the previous century, the Army figured out it wanted an autoloading handgun with similar ballistic capability to the .45 Colt which had served them well. Since our military folks rode around on horseback at that time, features like easy one-handed operation and grip safeties were important. If you drop your handgun mid-gallop, you don’t want it to go off when it hits the ground.
In response, John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace, came up with the 1911. The Army liked its ease of use and hard-hitting power, which, according to 1911 guru Robert Campbell, is like “a velvet covered brick.”
You’ll hear gun folks talk in reverential tones about the pistol named 1911. Yes, it’s a year, but it’s also pistol design. Not a manufacturer or a specific model, but a design – kind of like how a pickup truck is a design. Lot’s of car manufacturers make pickups, and you can get them with different size engines, but they all have some common features, like seats in the front and a cargo bed in the back.
What makes a 1911 a 1911?
The purist definition of a 1911 might be an a pistol that exactly copies John Moses Browning’s famous design produced in the year, you guessed it, 1911. But even that was tweaked by the military a few years later with the A1 model. Since that time, thousands of gunmakers have produced 1911-style pistols with various tweaks to the original design.
At what point do “design enhancements” cause a gun to be something other than a 1911? Are there design features that, if tampered with, cause a 1911 to morph into something else?
Perhaps the best way to define the 1911 is by the collection of characteristics:
Short recoil operation with tilting barrel and swinging link
You’ll notice that 1911 pistol barrels have a moving link on the bottom under the chamber. As the pistol fires, the barrel and slide move backward together for a short distance. At this point, the link rotates the breech end of the barrel downward, unlocking it from the slide. This allows the slide to travel backward and eject the spent cartridge case. The recoil spring sends the slide forward, picking up a fresh cartridge along the way and recapturing the barrel.
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There’s always something appealing about a nice 1911. While carrying a full size, all steel 1911 isn’t always fun, shooting one sure is. This particular eSeries model is a blend of traditional and modern innovation. Like the origin government model, it’s got a 5 inch barrel, single stack .45 ACP magazine and single action trigger. Unlike the original, it features Tritium night sights, tactical rail and other internal design changes that we’ll discuss later.
Let’s start with the most noticeable features. With that criteria in mind, I have to mention the grips first. They’re gorgeous. The specs say the grips are wood laminate, but it’s sure hard to tell. The grain pattern is beautiful and the finish is well polished. There is a small diamond with the eSeries “E” logo. Surrounding this is a traditional diamond checkered pattern. Above and below the diamond pattern area you’ll see a fish-scale pattern that matches the scallop pattern carved into the slide. The grips are not only really attractive, but functional. They won’t rub your hands raw, but do provide a positive grip through recoil.
The slide also falls into the “cool looking” category. The cocking serrations at the rear are the same fish, dragon or snake scale pattern – choose your favorite reptile. There are matching scale serrations on the front. Some people don’t like texture on the front of 1911 slides, but I find them handy for press checks. Even if I grab the front of the slide overhand, I can still easily see the chamber. But using front serrations or not is a personal preference thing. I happen to like them, but get that others don’t. The top of the slide is flattened and has full length grooves. Whether or not you think this “looks” cool is not really the issue. The practical purpose is to reduce glare that can interfere with your sight picture. Another thing to mention while we’re talking about the slide is that there are horizontal serrations at the rear also on both sides of the hammer cutout. Again, the purpose is to minimize glare.
The extractor is an external design, so that varies from the “purist” 1911. Personally, I don’t favor internal or external, as long as it works. You’ll also notice that the ejection port features a scooped cutout at the front to assist with easy ejection with a wide variety of load types.
The SW1911TA ships with two magazines with 8 round capacity, so the total carry load is nine including one in the chamber. The magazine release button is aggressively checkered and .145 inches is exposed above frame level. It’s easy to reach with your firing hand thumb if your’e right handed. When shooting left handed, I was able to operate the magazine release with my trigger finger without breaking my normal firing grip. Magazines easily fall free of the magazine well when empty.
Both sides of the frame behind the trigger are beveled to allow an unhindered reach to the trigger. The front of the grip is contoured and recessed to allow a high grip and secure resting place for your firing hand middle finger.
The front and back of the grip area are checkered with good, but not sharp texture. I counted somewhere in around a 17 or 18 lines per inch pattern, but all those dots kept getting blurry when counting, so let’s call it 17.5 lines per inch, OK? I’ll schedule a visit with my eye doc before the next time I have to count checkering patterns.
I feel sorry for new shooters.
Back when I was a new shooter, movable type had just been invented and the internet wasn’t even part of Nostradamus’ wildest dreams. Learning about guns and self defense was hard, but easy. It was hard because I couldn’t sit at my computer and browse the opinions of thousands of self-proclaimed experts. It was easy because I had to get my information from face to face conversations, and it was clear when someone was full of baloney.
Now, with the advent of online advice, it’s up the the new shooter to filter out the good information from the chaff. Ask a simple question like “should I get a semi-automatic or a revolver” and you’ll get 4,357 opinions and a few offers for diet plans of the stars.
For this inaugural issue of the NSSF First Shots Newsletter, I wanted to address one of the most persistent, and challenging, decisions for new shooters: revolver or semi-auto? Granted, to you, I’m also one of those 4,357 opinions on the internet. But on the plus side, I do this for a living and I’m a student just like you. I’ve been shooting and studying shooting issues for decades, yet I still learn something new every day. I love that. More importantly, I love sharing what I learn. So what do you say let’s get started?
The first order of business is to resolve some of the perpetual myths that surround the revolver versus semi-automatic decision.
“Revolvers are more reliable!”
“Semi-auto’s are prone to jamming!”
“A snub-nose revolver is the perfect carry gun for beginners!”
“Semi-automatic pistols are hard to operate!”
And so on… You could write a book on revolver vs. semi-automatic myths.
Let’s address these issues with the appropriate level of detail and care.
So what are issues to consider? Let’s talk about some real decision criteria. The goal isn’t to provide an answer for what’s the best choice for you, but rather to give you things to think about. Why? Because there is no “best” choice. The best choice for you depends entirely on your situation and preferences.
Let’s take a look at a few factors that might influence your decision.
One of the reasons I started writing Insanely Practical Guides was to help acclimate new shooters and gun owners to the confusing world of guns, shooting and etiquette. Here’s a quick excerpt from The Rookies Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition…
If you talk to a couple of gun aficionados, you’re likely to hear about what sounds like yet another type of handgun – the 1911. No worries, it’s just a type of semi-automatic pistol. People tend to get pretty passionate about 1911 style pistols so they tend to get placed in their own category.
You’ll hear gun folks talk in reverential tones about something called a 1911. Yes, it’s a year. It also sounds a little bit like a famous model of Porsche. But in context of this book, it’s a pistol design. Not a manufacturer or a specific model, but a design. Kind of like how a pickup truck is a design. Lot’s of car manufacturers make them, and you can get them with different size engines, but they all have some common features, like seats in the front and a cargo bed in the back.
Here’s a 1911 model pistol made by Springfield Armory. It’s the TRP Armory Kote model.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but 1911’s are kind of like pickup trucks. They are all based on a semi-automatic pistol design, invented and brought to market in, you guessed it, the year 1911 by one John Moses Browning. 1911’s have a number of common design elements, regardless of which manufacturer makes them and often parts are interchangeable. For example, classic 1911’s are all single-action semiautomatics, have a thumb and grip safety, and a similar design to lock and unlock the barrel during recoil.
1911’s have a lot to live up to. They have been known to take down both a Japanese Zero fighter and German Storch observation plane in World War II. In fact, some believe that a stray 1911 .45 ACP round inadvertently destroyed the city of Dresden. OK, the Dresden thing may be a slight exaggeration, but the 1911 has been a phenomenally successful and long-lived design.
The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:
Even with a busy meeting and interview schedule, we managed to spot some pretty nifty things during day 1 of the NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis. So far, we’ve only covered about 30% of the exhibits, so look for more over the next two days.
Here are some of the standouts from Day 1:
|Smith & Wesson M&P Shield – The much anticipated Shield is out and available for purchase. It’s a compact, yet comfortable little single stack pistol. It sports a brand new trigger design which is, well, fantastic.|
|Aimpoint Pro – Previously for LE and Military only, a civvie version is ready. 2 MOA red dot, flip up lens covers, a torque limiting rail mount and typical Aimpoint quality. We’ll be doing a full review shortly.|
|Bore Tips and Swab Its – We first saw these at SHOT Show 2012, but they still make the NRA AM Day 1 cool list. Bore-Tips are foam based cleaning swabs get complete contact with the barrel – and they are washable for reuse. Swab Its are the 21st century equivalent of Q-Tips that don’t leave cottony junk in your gun. And they come in different sizes to do things like reach into those impossible spaces in AR chambers.|
|Handgun Hangers – From Store More Guns, these simple but amazingly useful hangers mount above and/or below safe shelfs to hang pistols by the barrel. This keeps your pistols organized on any size of shelf. And you can store magazines underneath. They also have some nifty solutions that allow storage or more rifles in the same amount of gun safe space.|
|Ruger 22/45 LITE Rimfire Pistol – This fun little .22LR pistol is shockingly light. No really, shockingly light. Oh, and phenomenally cool. The gold receiver and barrel shroud is tastefully colored and the contour cuts are just plain sporty. Look for this in different colors something in the future.|
We’ll be back tomorrow with more cool things from the NRA Annual Convention. Stay tuned…
Ok, so 1,911 times 0.85 is… Carry the one…
Browning supplied several of its new 1911-22 models for Media Day at the range during SHOT Show 2012.
Yes, this handy little .22 looks just like a full size 1911 fresh out of a one way Wonka TV trip, but it’s far more than a plinker that only looks like its big brother.
The 1911-22 is in fact a scaled down 1911 inside and out. 85% scale to be exact. It’s identical operation to a 1911 with the exception of the lockup of the barrel. The .22 round does not need a tilting lock breech so this pistol is a blowback design.
Oh, and it’s a hoot to fire.
|On the first day of Christmas, I hope my true love gives to me…A Smith and Wesson M and P…|
We’ve got a love / hate relationship with the .357 Sig cartridge. Love the power, feeding characteristics, reliability, .357 Magnum-like ballistics from a semi-auto, and sheer joy of shooting it. Hate the price of factory ammo, leaving precious .357 Sig brass on the ground at lost-brass matches, and some of the quirks of reloading.
However, we’re thinking the Smith and Wesson M&P would make an outstanding platform for this round. There’s something about the shape of the Smith and Wesson M&P grip that is just, well, shootable. The more round profile makes it particularly comfortable and facilitates control under recoil We’ve shot the M&P in .40 S&W and found it outstanding. And fun.
Smith and Wesson’s M&P in .357 Sig offers a polymer frame with 15+1 round capacity. Tritium sights would be on it – of course. And ours would not have the optional frame mounted safety. Personal preference there.